Soft Landing In Greece

WOMEX attendance continues to fall albeit slowly, suggesting a possible stabilization trend for the international world music gathering.

Having spent three years in Copenhagen, this year the suitably nomadic event fetched up in Thessalonika, Greece, Oct. 17-21, which is far from Europe’s most buoyant music economy.

“We have 2 percent less delegates than last year,” WOMEX head of media and communications Anna Poetzsch told Pollstar, pointing out that it still has claims to be the most international of all music networking events worldwide. 
“[That’s] the lowest decrease in the past three years and considering the fact that we have moved to a ‘bankrupt’ country with a very small music industry in 2012 this is a very positive result,” she said.
The 2,200 delegates came from 90 countries, which will make this year’s WOMEX one of Europe’s largest music business gatherings.
Since 2009, when 2,700 delegates made WOMEX the busiest it had been since the conference and trade fair started in Berlin in 1994, the numbers have fallen nearly 10 percent to 2,440 in 2010, a further 7.7 percent to 2,250 in 2011, but now it seems to have found a soft landing by dropping only a further 2.2 percent for 2012.
The delegates comprised 730 concert and festival bookers, 490 labels, publishers and distributors, 570 managers and 310 producers. There were also 330 national and international journalists, including 160 international radio broadcasters.
The musical content of this year’s WOMEX had 61 acts from 50 countries appearing at eight stages, including the city’s Helexpo, Megaro and Kitchen Bar venues.
Club Globalkan hosted the acts that came from the local south-eastern Europe (or Balkan) region.
Due to a collaboration of public radio broadcasters including ERT (Greece), the BBC (UK), RBB and WDR (both Germany), and NRK (Norway) large parts of the showcase festival were recorded and made available to the European Broadcasting Union for distribution and transmission in and outside Europe.
The real downside was at the annual WOMEX trade fair, where 600 companies from 40 countries took trade-stand space to market their wares. That was 14 percent down on the 700 companies from 68 countries that took space in Copenhagen Forum in 2011.
This year’s conference sessions featured 70 speakers and mentors from nearly 30 countries in more than 20 panels. The particular emphasis was on the state, peculiarities and development of the regional music business, which must be problematic in view of its desperate economic situation.
The fully booked southeastern European “matchmaking” sessions were designed to help regional promoters and artists reps touch base with those from outside the Balkans.
Next year’s WOMEX is in Cardiff, Wales, Oct. 23-27.